What Makes a Good Life?

What make a good life? This age-old question has been asked for thousands of years, from ancient Stoics to modern-day philosophers.

While listening to Day 196 of the Bible in a Year Podcast, Fr. Mike Schmitz had an answer that I think just absolutely struck the nail on the head.

The lesson can be found in the Book of Tobit.

Tobit 12:8 says, “Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness.”

  • Prayer: I have a relationship with God
  • Fasting: I deny myself
  • Almsgiving: I take care of those around me
  • Righteousness: I am doing what God commands me to do

These four together make up the spiritual life.

Tobit 12:10 goes on to say: “But those who commit sin are the enemies of their own lives.”

This is the key phrase—how many of us are enemies of our own lives? How many of us make the wrong choices and cause trouble for ourselves?

This, then, is the definition of a good life:

  • Choosing prayer—believing in something bigger than ourselves
  • Choosing fasting—working for justice
  • Choosing almsgiving—supporting others
  • Choosing righteousness—finding our own special purpose

Choosing all these good things and not being enemies in our own lives—this is what it means to live a good life.

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